Lychnis chalcedonica

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Lychnis chalcedonica
Lychnis chalcedonica B.jpg
Scientific classification
L. chalcedonica
Binomial name
Lychnis chalcedonica

Lychnis chalcedonica (Maltese-cross,[1] burning love, dusky salmon, flower of Bristol, Jerusalem cross, nonesuch; syn. Silene chalcedonica) is a species of flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae, native to central and eastern Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and northwestern China.


Growing 35–100 cm (14–39 in) tall with unbranched stems, it is an herbaceous perennial. The leaves are produced in opposite pairs, simple broad lanceolate, 2–12 cm (1–5 in) long and 1–5 cm broad. The flowers are produced in clusters of 10-50 together; each flower is bright red, 1–3 cm in diameter, with a deeply five-lobed corolla, each lobe being further split into two smaller lobes. This forms a general shape similar to that of the Maltese cross to which it owes one of its common names. The fruit is a dry capsule containing numerous seeds.


The specific epithet chalcedonica refers to the ancient town of Chalcedon in what is now Turkey.[2]

Numerous common names are attached to this plant, including:-[3]

  • Burning love
  • Common rose campion
  • Constantinople campion
  • Dusky salmon
  • Fireball
  • Flower of Bristol[4]
  • Flower of Constantinople
  • Gardener's delight
  • Gardener's eye
  • Great candlestick
  • Jerusalem cross
  • Knight's cross
  • Maltese cross
  • Meadow campion
  • Nonesuch
  • Red robin
  • Scarlet lightning
  • Scarlet lychnis
  • Tears of Christ

L. chalcedonica was voted the county flower of Bristol in 2002 following a poll by the wild flora conservation charity Plantlife. Its colour is reflected in the livery and crest of the city's university.[5]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Lychnis chalcedonica is a popular ornamental plant in gardens. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[6][7] Numerous cultivars have been selected, varying in flower colour from bright red to orange-red, pink or white. It grows best in partial to full sun and in any good well-drained soil, if provided with a constant moisture supply. The flowering period is extended if faded flowers are removed. It is short-lived in poorly drained soil. Double flowered cultivars are propagated by division.

The species can become naturalised or even invasive if plants are allowed to set seed; it is naturalised in some parts of North America. Thomas Jefferson sowed this plant at Monticello in 1807.



  1. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. p. 224. ISBN 9781845337315.
  3. ^ "Lychnis chalcedonica". EPPO Global Database. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  4. ^ "The Nonesuch: Remarkable Flower of Bristol".
  5. ^ "The nonesuch" (PDF). Nonesuch: Inside front cover. Autumn 2015.
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Lychnis chalcedonica". Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  7. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 62. Retrieved 25 March 2018.